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Answering Frequently Asked Questions About H1B RFE
May 23, 2022
14 mins
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In this article, you will find answers to FAQs about:

  • Basic info on H1B RFEs
  • Best practices in responding to an H1B RFE
  • H1B specialty occupation RFE

Before you start reading the FAQs on RFEs, first check out the complete guide on Request for Evidence.

Answering Basic FAQs About H1B Request for Evidence

1. What does RFE mean?

An RFE is a Request for Evidence - a notice or letter issued by the USCIS officer for additional evidence like information or documentation supporting a pending H1B petition.

2. How is an H1B RFE defined?

A Request For Evidence, or RFE, is an inquiry issued by the USCIS asking for further proof or documentation to decide on your petition.

An RFE notice is not an indicator that your petition is denied. It is simply a request for information or documentation that is missing and will be required to make a decision about your petition.

3. When and why does the USCIS issue an RFE?

An H1B petition could fall into any one of the following categories:

  • Completed record: case is approvable
  • Evidence clearly shows ineligibility: case not approvable
  • Evidence does not clearly establish eligibility or lack of it and raises underlying questions

If your petition is missing crucial documentation or evidence, or if the submitted proof raises the need for further questioning, the USCIS officer issues the RFE notice to be able to reach a conclusive decision.

4. Which H1B application category does the USCIS issue an RFE for?

An RFE can be raised for first-time H1B applications, H1B extensions, or status transfers. The notice can be issued to the sponsor, the petitioner, or both.

5. What are some of the reasons USCIS issues RFE?

Here is a summary of reasons why the USCIS issues an RFE:

  • Questions about specialty occupation - there must be a requirement for a bachelor's degree in a related subject.
  • The employer-employee relationship is not clearly established - the employer must show clear evidence of terms and schedules set for the job.
  • Proof of available off-site or in-house work for the employment duration applied for in the petition is not evident.
  • The beneficiary's qualification is lacking or does not match the job being offered.
  • There is insufficient evidence of status maintenance, usually proved by producing pay stubs.
  • There must be a DOL-approved LCA accompanying the petition. If the submitted LCA does not show accurate terms of employment like salary, job title, or location of employment, there will be grounds for an RFE.
  • Proof of AC21 and the maximum six-year limit - H1B six-year limit of being present in the US has been reached, and there is a need for proof of PERM certification or proof of an already approved I-140, or one pending for one year.
  • An incomplete itinerary that does not clearly show locations and dates of the work to be done.
  • If the residence address is shown as far away from the place of employment.
  • Incomplete filing fee. The filing fee depends on the kind of application you are filing, the number of workers in the petitioning company, whether the employer is cap-exempt or cap-subject, whether you have opted for Premium Processing, etc. In reality, evidence of insufficient fee filing will usually result in a rejection.

6. What action should be taken if the employer gets an RFE notice from the USCIS?

The first step is to spend time reading the document carefully and making sure that your employer understands all terms and clauses mentioned. If there is any part of the document that your employer does not understand or know how to address, the best course of action will be to approach an immigration attorney. The USCIS addresses all notices and correspondences to petitioning employers or attorneys.

7. Does the RFE notice come with a time frame for a response? Is it possible to ignore this?

You will be given anywhere between thirty to eighty-four days to send a response, depending on how complex the RFE is. The deadline is usually binding and late responses are not entertained.

8. Once I file a response, how long will a USCIS response take?

You could get a response from the USCIS within a few days. The maximum response time is sixty days. If there is no response beyond this period, you can file a Service Request by calling the National Customer Service Center.

9. Is there a difference between a NOID and an RFE?

Yes, the two notices show a difference in intent. With an RFE, the USCIS officer simply requires more evidence to reach a conclusive decision. On the other hand, the officer issuing the NOID - Notice of Intent to Deny - has sufficient evidence in your file but is not convinced of your eligibility.

10. What happens if my employer cannot respond to the RFE within the stipulated time?

It is always recommended that your employer responds to the RFE with evidence on time. If you fail to respond to the RFE with the required documentation within the deadline, there is a strong possibility of rejection.

11. What response options does my employer have when I receive an RFE notice?

Your employer can respond to an RFE in three ways:

  • full response: Submit all the requested evidence in one go.
  • partial response: submit partial evidence indicating that a decision should be made based on evidence submitted
  • application withdrawal

In crafting a response to an RFE, it is always advisable to consult a professional. Your best course of action may not always be the most obvious one. For instance, a partial response may not lead to an automatic denial in some cases.

12. What does it mean when there is a mismatch of information on the VIBE?

The Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE) is a tool that helps the USCIS verify basic details about a petitioning employer. Changes like relocation of the company could result in the records showing discrepancies compared to the H1B petition details. USCIS may issue an H1B RFE request asking to verify the petitioning employer's wage reports, tax ID number, etc.

Answering FAQs About Best Practices for Answering RFE

13.What are considered best practices for preparing and submitting an RFE response?

When responding to an RFE, keep the following points in mind:

  • Give the RFE a thorough reading. Seek professional help if you don't understand something or are unsure how to respond.
  • Take the time to calmly consider your options, and don't rush into any impulsive decisions.
  • Craft a complete response to the RFE, and don't answer in parts.
  • Verify that all your documents have been included and that you have the right address for mailing your response.
  • Make sure to adhere to the deadline strictly.

14. What are five tips for completing the H1B transfer RFE successfully?

Here are five valuable tips for completing the H1B transfer RFE:

  • Involve an immigration attorney in the initial stages of your application. It will ensure that you are taking the best steps and eliminating errors.
  • Read the RFE notice thoroughly. Skimming through will increase the chances of missed information, incomplete understanding, or even faulty comprehension.
  • Stick to the deadline. Using the time frame, you must thoroughly understand the USCIS' requirements and craft a suitable response as the best course of action.
  • Complete the RFE response. There will only be one form sent for completion, and there are usually no second chances for completing the response.
  • The best response to an RFE is a brief yet concise, to the point answer that covers all the requirements.

15. What are some of the H1B RFE trends and approval rates?

Any change to an H1B status, including extensions, transfers, or even new petitions start with a new I-129 filed by the H1B employer. Each time an I-129 is filed, there is a possibility of receiving an RFE. The highest approval rate was seen in Q2 of FY 2015, which was 95.7%. Rates have dropped since 2015, and in Q2 of FY 2019, there was an approval rate of above 80%, which increased by more than four percent to 87.1% in Q2 of FY 2020.

H1B RFE rate in Q2 FY 2020 at 35.8% was much higher than FY 2015's rate of 22.3%. Chances of approval after an RFE rose to 68.2% in FY2020 Q2, though this remains significantly lower than the 83.2% rate in FY2015.

Also Read: A Quick Look at the USCIS RFE Premium Processing

16. Is a beneficiary's direct response to an RFE accepted?

This is a definite no! The petitioning employee is the only one who can respond to an RFE, just as they are the ones who need to file a petition for the H1B. Your only role in these cases is to stay in the loop by checking the case status online using the petition case receipt number.

17. What odds does an H1B employer have of receiving an RFE notice?

Unless the H1B petition has been carefully and completely filed, there is a high possibility that your petitioning employer will receive an RFE. USCIS has made processing more stringent in recent years. 35.8% of cases received an RFE in the year 2020. As mentioned above, the approval rate of applications after an RFE was issued was about 70% of the total.

18. Does a CPT or F-1 OPT help in an H1B RFE?

If the USCIS finds multiple instances of Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training during your F1 stay at each level of education, they may issue an RFE.

Answering FAQs on H1B Specialty Occupation RFE

19. What happens when a petition is submitted for a company or business that plans to hire a professional with qualifications that don't specifically match the field?

This situation can be a little complicated to explain. When a small company or business files a petition for an alien worker whose skills are not typically related to their field of operation, an RFE notice is issued.

For instance, when a construction company files an H1B to hire a financial planner, the USCIS may question the correlation between the skills required and the work environment. They may find the possibility of the worker being hired below their capacity. The petitioning employer should be able to prove that the beneficiary will be engaged in a specialty occupation.

20 What are the chances that the H1B will be approved when an RFE has been issued?

Numbers show that only a little over half of H1B petitions issued an RFE received approval in 2019. These numbers have increased over the years, with 2020 showing that 68.2% of H1B petitions were approved after getting an RFE.

For more information on H1B and US non-Immigrant visa, visit/follow TechFetch H1B.

**Disclaimer: Immigration laws are constantly subject to change. For the latest updates please refer to the official USCIS website.

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